The OWL — Optimized Weapon Light — by Cloud Defensive attempts to push the boundaries of weapon light design. Even from the outside, the OWL looks like something different than most lights. It’s a 12 o’clock light that attaches over the top rail of your chosen platform and mounts to the side opposite of your support hand. The rail mount doubles as your activation switch.
Its external design is unique, but what really sets the OWL apart is the power it packs. While many companies sell their lights on the lumens they pack, the OWL is all about candela.
The OWL packs 1,250 lumens and 50,000 candela. The end result is illumination that slices through the darkness and reaches out with a purpose. The OWL has an impressive effective range, and to get the most out of if, the light should be paired with an optic.
The OWL is a monstrous powerhouse of a light that allows you to see out to 200 yards when combined with a low powered optic. I was impressed when I got to 100 yards and could see my green target in rich color. I just kept moving backward, and at 200 yards, I could still establish PID on my torso and head-sized target.
You can see the details of the target at that range to determine if they are a threat or not.
That’s the effect of the OWL’s powerful combination of lumens and candela. The beam throw is long and intense, with enough spill to be useful. The beam color is warmer than most high powered lights, and this allows for better penetration of a photogenic barrier. Because I live in Florida and it’s summer, it’s pretty much always raining, or still foggy.
The OWL doesn’t care. It blazes on through both without issue. That’s one of the best features of a warmer beam, at least for me, because I live in an environment where rain is a constant companion.
The OWL is an outstanding outdoor light and it works just as well inside the home. It throws a tight and powerful beam that will easily illuminate an entire room. The light is crazy bright, but it’s not uncomfortably so for the end-user. It produces a bad guy-disorienting beam that ensures you’ll have the ability to see a threat in vivid detail.
The light is surprisingly simple, and the ergonomics are also simple. The OWL has one bug button that runs the length of the mount. The button itself can be activated regardless of where you press it. You don’t have to find a sweet spot to activate the light, just touch the button somewhere.
The light has both momentary and constant modes that are determined by how long you hold the button down. A quick click is constant; a slightly longer hold is momentary.
A design that sticks off the side the way the OWL does seems to present two problems. First, how can lefties use it? Second, if you needed to switch shoulders, could you?
The answer to the first problem is you can reverse the tail cap and head of the light. Neither sports threading, but instead, you get a patented lug system that rotates and releases each end, allowing you to reverse the light for left-handed use.
In terms of swapping shoulders, there is no issue. The light is still natural to activate by just reaching behind it and finding the button with your thumb. It surprised me by how easy it was to reach, and also showed me how terrible I am at shooting from my left shoulder.
The OWL is a tank. It’s built to be extremely durable and exceeds industry standards for both impact resistance and waterproof design. It can be submerged up to 200 feet for 24 hours without issue.
Durability-wise, Cloud Defensive has posted some impressive test results over their social media. They say beat the hell out of the OWL, and it keeps on keeping on. In my experience, the light is unaffected by heat from a gun, even though it’s often placed right by the gas block and muzzle.
When I say this light is a tank, I mean it. It weighs 11 ounces with an 18650 battery. Thats a good bit of heft for a weapon light, but I don’t mind the weight when I’m getting all this power.
The Cloud Defensive OWL comes with two 18650 batteries and a professional grade battery charger. Rechargeable 18650s are common, and quality models cost less than ten bucks each. The 18650 batteries are necessary to provide all the power required for the OWL generate the beam it does.
One small feature that bears mentioning is the tail cap doubles as a tool that can be used to attach or detach the light from the rail. It’s a smart move that makes it perfect for field conditions. Lastly, the OWL is made in the good ol’ US of A.
Specifications: Cloud Defensive OWL Optimized Weapon Light
Length: 5.255 inches
Weight: 11 Ounces
Ratings (out of five stars):
Power: * * * * *
The OWL is a mighty light that casts its beam bright and far. It’s best when paired with a magnified optic to get the most out of it. The OWL offers unbeatable range and power in all situations.
Ergonomics: * * * *
The design itself is effortless, and the single control is easy to press and not picky about how you activate it. The light can be used in multiple positions and allows for equal access to righties and lefties. The only downside is the weight.
Durability: * * * * *
The Cloud Defense OWL is an absolute beast. It’s a durable light designed to last and is seemingly bombproof.
Overall: * * * * *
The OWL represents the first in what’s likely going to become the new standard for weapon lights. It’s hard to go back to even premium lights like Surefire and Streamlight when the OWL exists.